Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Here's What I'm Wearing...

—A short sleeve shirt
—Tennis shoes
—Capri pants

And yes, it's still winter.

But not here in Nebraska!

It's actually close to 70 degrees here today. And it's supposed to climb to 75! Isn't that ridiculously crazy?

I don't know that I'm ready for spring and summer. Well, ok, maybe I'm ready for spring, but definitely not summer! I hate heat and I usually don't go outside until the sun goes down or it's a cloudy, rainy day. I am looking forward to thunderstorms, though!

We had a Mardi Gras celebration at work today - a Cajun potluck! Lots of beans and rice and yummy sausage. So maybe I did go back and have seconds...it's a party, right? ;-)

Tonight I have my monthly chapter meeting. I'm excited, although it looks like a lot of people won't be able to make it. Our group is small, but mighty. We have a lot of fun together and always support one another.

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Perfect Pair of Jeans

I hate shopping for jeans. Until I drop this extra weight (hey, I worked out FOUR TIMES last week at Curves, plus a great walk on Friday and Sunday!) it's really just an exercise in frustration.

But I had a $15 gift card to Sears that I've been wanting to use and I needed an extra pair of jeans, so off we went to the mall yesterday.

I've been wanting something a little more "stylish," i.e. not the whole "mommy jeans" that we mothers are often accused of wearing (even though those types of jeans are COMFY, darn it!). My favorite brand of jeans is LEVI's, but it's literally been years since I've bought a pair.

Well, that changed on Sunday. I found a great pair of jeans, boot-cut, that go perfect with my very stylish boots. Now they're not the most comfortable thing to wear, but hey, I'm stylin', right?

Oh, how we suffer for fashion...

It could be worse. I could be wearing a corset in an effort to get the 16-inch waist. I could have on layers of petticoats. Or a farthingale. Or hoops. Or, God forbid, a metal corset that they wore in the 16th century (I think).

I once wanted to become a fashion historian, and that still might be in the cards someday. I love to look back over history and see how clothes are shaped by the events of our culture. The French Revolution is a perfect example. The powdered wigs and elaborate and enormous dresses disappeared in favor of much simpler clothing, eventually leading to the Empire waist-dresses. The freedom of oppression certainly showed up in the freedom to move in your clothes! I even did a paper on how fashion changed in this period - it's truly remarkable.

Now that I'm sitting here at work with my new jeans, I'm feeling them digging into certain places, making me uncomfortable, and I long to throw on a pair of lounging pants, put my hair in a ponytail, and relax on the couch.

Oh fashion, you are a cruel mistress...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Ellis Island

Every once in awhile, I'll become consumed with researching my family history. We're Italian and if you're ever interested, you can check out my Italian family photos at my website (which isn't really an OFFICIAL website, just sort of an experimental template I used for awhile) here:


If you haven't yet heard, Ellis Island has a searchable list of those who came through Ellis Island. I found both of my great-grandparents' names on the ship's manifest and ordered them, then framed them for my grandfather. It's an enduring record for my family. If you haven't checked it out, I encourage you to do so! www.ellisisland.org

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

No, Rene, You Can't Have My Chocolate

Good news!

Dark chocolate is actually good for you. But it's ALSO good for diabetics! According to studies, eating dark chocolate regularly improves insulin response.


And wouldn't you know...I just happen to have a bar of Hershey's Special Dark chocolate sitting in my desk drawer...

Although I prefer milk chocolate, I'll take dark chocolate since it appears that I can actually have it. Good thing I can still indulge in some of that Easter candy. But my one Easter candy weakness unfortunately does not come in dark chocolate - Cadbury's Mini Eggs. You know the ones that are tiny little eggs of goodness with a candy coating and rich, milk chocolate underneath? I usually go through five bags every year. But I'm thinking this year I can buy just one bag and have maybe two a day or so.

Or maybe I can beg and plead with Cadbury to make them in a dark chocolate version! ;-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Sense of Place

On the way back from my writing retreat over the weekend, I had thirty minutes of driving time (in the dark, in the middle of Nebraska) to contemplate my sense of place.

The town where we held our writing retreat is very small - 1700 people. Of course, I grew up on a farm near a town of 1600 people. I'm used to small towns. But I felt a sense of isolation in this particular town that I don't feel back home. But maybe that's just because it IS my hometown.

I'm beginning to realize just how important place is to me. I remember one summer during junior high that I was severely depressed. We lived ten miles outside of town on a farm and the days were lonely and isolating for me. Whenever we went to town, I instantly felt better. I think it was the bustle of the people and the cars driving by.

I've found that I thrive in the city - the energy and vitality keeps me going, makes me feel alive.

But there are those moments when I go back home and sit on my dad's front porch, looking out over the vast stretch of prairie, and I feel peace. But only for a few days - then I have to get back to my lifeline - the city.

Strange, considering that I was born and raised on a farm. I never lived in town until I went to college. But I find that I can't quite go back to that small town mentality.

Thus, place is a very big component of my life. Some people can live anywhere and be just fine. Not me.

This has naturally crept into my novels. Setting is always supposed to be an important aspect of any story, but for me, it's more about how the character feels towards the setting. My hero's home is a place of refuge and peace, almost a character in itself.

Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights also focused on place - the Moors figured heavily into the novel. I actually walked those wind-swept Moors and could feel the loneliness and isolation. But there was also a subtle power about them that compelled you to stand in one spot and just close your eyes to listen to everything around you.

I'd like to explore this topic further, but darn if I didn't get a good night's sleep last night. Hubby's snoring and all. ;-)

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Good Title Eludes Me

The weekend was good. Not fantastic or spectacular, but good. And I'll take good.

Saturday I managed to get over to the bookstore sale and I bought two shelves for $30 - woo hoo! I can't pick them up until the store officially closes, but that's ok - I'll make do.

I headed off to my writing retreat later that afternoon and had a blast. The gals from my chapter are some of my dearest friends. We were dedicated, too, taking time to gab AND time to write! We went and had a hamburger down at the bowling alley (yes, this was a very small town - 1700 people) and for a pop, hamburger, and curly fries, it cost me $3.25. Can you believe that??? I'm so used to paying $7 or $8 for a hamburger in the city that I couldn't get over the price! And it was GOOD. You just can't beat small town cafes.

Sunday hubby and I went grocery shopping. He's determined to lose weight before his mom's wedding this summer and we really bought a lot of great, nutritious food. I am excited by what I have in my kitchen now. Lots of whole grains, veggies, low-fat fare. Even found some sugar-free spaghetti sauce, and we're substituting ground turkey for ground beef (but hubby didn't like the spaghetti I made - said it tasted too bland. But he's picky. LOL). I also found some Pillsbury sugar-free cookies which I baked last night. While they will work, they still don't taste quite the same, and if you eat too many of them, well, let's just say you'll be spending some time in the bathroom.

I didn't get any more writing done yesterday, but I plan to hit it hard tonight after I exercise. The house is half-way clean and I just need to keep doing laundry. Other than that, I don't have any plans other than writing! :-)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Some Good News!

Well, the best news of ALL is that I have such awesome friends as you guys! Thanks SO MUCH for all of your support through my health woes. It's such a great source of strength for me.

I went to the doctor today and she said that we caught this in time - I can possibly reverse the diabetes and be just fine (just like your grandma, Tess!) This was a huge relief to me. Even though I wasn't surprised by the diagnosis, it's still something to take seriously. And I plan to.

I will be headed to a nutritionist sometime soon to help me plan meals. I'm determined to get back to exercising, which I've put off for a few weeks now, and start incorporating more movement into my day.

Overall, I feel a sense of relief. I know that sounds weird...but I feel like I can really make the healthy changes this time because I have a lot of motivation behind it. I don't want to even think about the complications of diabetes...therefore, I have to make the changes NOW. :-)

Weekend Activities!!!

I plan to write, write, write, this weekend. But I'm also going to have to make a trip to a local used bookstore that is going out of business. Sigh...would love to take it over and have a business of my own. But that's not in the cards right now. Anyway, she's selling everything and I need bookshelves! (and more books, too!!!)

It's my chapter's writing retreat this weekend, too. We found a neat little hotel in the Czech capital of Nebraska - Wilber - and we'll be there Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. While I will probably only go on Saturday, it will be a wonderful chance to get together and write.

Hope you all have a WONDERFUL weekend! Hugs and love to you all!!!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Health Watch 2006

It's official - the doctor's called me with my glucose tolerance test results today. I am a diabetic.

Big sigh...

Unfortunately, I found out at work. Now I could go home and have a pity party for myself - especially since it is snowing outside and I am still fighting this cold - but I'm not going to do that. I'm going to hang tough. Work. Get on with life. Figure out how I'm going to get healthy.

It's not that being a diabetic will necessarily be a bad thing. Now I will be forced to make smart, healthy choices. It will be the best incentive of all to exercise, eat right, take my medication, etc. And that is NOT a bad thing.

At least I know now what has been going on with me healthwise for months now. And knowing is half the battle!

I'm going to continue to stay positive. I have to stay positive.

Last night, in the midst of my raging cold, I actually opened up my laptop and started writing. It felt good. And tonight, I hope to do the same. :-)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Life and All That...

As a writer, one of the worst things that can happen is an injury to your writing hand. You can't hold a pen or type on the keyboard without pain.

But even worse than having the injury is having no idea how you got it in the first place.

Yesterday afternoon I was in agony. My hand was swollen, my wrist ached, and I really, really didn't want to move it at all. But when you type for a living, you don't have much of a choice. I kept trying to remember when it started hurting and the only thing I can come up with is after my dentist appointment. It started to ache then - I don't know if I twisted it while I lay there with my mouth cranked open for two hours or what. But at any rate, I'm in some pain now and I'm thinking it's my carpal tunnel flaring anew for some awful reason. Thus, I have a wrist brace on right now and it seems to be helping.

Unfortunately, to add misery to pain, I also have a cold. My daughter had the flu virus and yesterday her fever finally broke. But she's still coughing and has a stuffy, runny nose. So I got it, too. I missed two days of work, though, so yesterday I spent the day playing catch up. Didn't even have time to do my blog surfing! I'm eager to catch up with you all and see what you've been up to!

But you know what makes me smile amidst the pain? Just thinking about my story and how badly I want to work on it. It'll have to wait until the day job is done and maybe even after this cold takes a hike. But just having the knowledge that it's there, waiting for me, gives me the incentive to take care of myself and get better.

In other news...

--Yesterday was my one-year anniversary at my job. Hard to believe I've been doing this for twelve months!

--My daughter is finally back in school! Yay!

--Hubby stayed home with our daughter yesterday and cleaned the entire house. Couldn't ask for a better surprise!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Permit Me to Vent

It's Valentine's Day. Ughhhh.

It wasn't always this way. In elementary school, I loved decorating my valentine box and I looked forward to making my own valentines or finding the perfect kind in the store. Mom would decorate the house and we'd make homemade valentine's.

Once I hit high school and the whole "boyfriend" stage, I started to get highly irritated with this holiday. By college, it had turned into full-blown hatred.

Could it be that I never seemed to have a boyfriend during the most saccharine day of the year?
College was the worst. When I lived in the dorms, the front desk in the lobby was the gathering place for the flower deliveries and balloons. And I always secretly wished that one of those blooming bouquets would be for me from a secret admirer. Guess what? Didn't happen. One year my friends and I all wore black on Valentine's Day in protest.

The year that I actually had a boyfriend - my junior year - he was out of town on a wrestling trip. No romance for me that day!

Here's the thing that gets me about Valentine's Day: I want to have flowers and cards and special presents all throughout the year from my significant other. I want to be told "I love you" each and every day. I don't want my husband to buy me roses and candy on Valentine's Day because he has to. It should be because he wants to and not because a commercial holiday makes him feel guilty if he doesn't. And really, doesn't Valentine's Day have a guilt factor associated with it? If you're a woman and you don't receive something for Valentine's Day, don't you feel a bit of resentment towards your significant other? I think it's perfectly normal to feel that way because society (i.e. the stores and their merchandise!) puts the pressure on a man to deliver and when he doesn't...watch out.

As a romance writer, perhaps I should love this day more. But I still cling to my original opinion - couples should celebrate Valentine's Day every day-no guilt allowed.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Long Weekend

There is a book by this particular title that I read while in undergrad school. I don't remember the particulars (probably because I didn't read most of it, as I was wont to do during undergrad school), I do know that it aptly fits this weekend.

Saturday I managed to get quite a bit of editing done on my novel. I even caught up on the laundry (is that even possible?)

But yesterday seemed to go on forever. I didn't get any writing done and my daughter was still sick. It's always difficult to muster up enthusiasm to do anything when you have a sick child. She's still home from school today, but I think she'll be ready to go back by tomorrow.

As for me, I think I could use a nice, long vacation.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Friday Tidbits

--Didn't go to work today since my daughter was running a fever and generally feeling icky. Staying home really was a blessing since I have been mentally and physically exhausted from everything I went through this week. On the down side, however, her illness has prevented us from going to the Nickelback concert tonight. But really, it's not that big of a deal. I already sold the tickets and I have a sense of relief about not being around crazy, wild, and screaming fans. I am craving peace and quiet tonight.

--The new Wallace and Gromit movie, The Curse of the Were Rabbit, (www.wandg.com) just came out on DVD last Tuesday. If you haven't had a chance to catch it yet, I highly suggest a trip to the video store! It took five years to make and it was definitely worth the wait. It's even been nominated for an Academy Award!

--I nearly forgot that I volunteered to judge an RWA contest. I just received the entries in the mail today - all of them historical - so I'm looking forward to that. I always find judging contests to be a great way to help other authors as well as look at my own novel with a more critical eye.

--Rene (http://alittlecheesewiththatwhine.blogspot.com/) has a great post today about feminism and today's role models - if you haven't read it yet, get thee hence!

It's Friday...the weekend is here! I have nothing planned other than writing and that's just how I like it. :-)

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ode to a Printer

Ode to a Printer
No longer must I wait
And risk being late
For a document I need
At the utmost speed
A laserjet now sits
With all its working bits
Bright and shiny white
And full of laser might
Printing 400 pages at once
Can be accomplished at lunch
Giving me more time
To indulge in the sublime.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

You Know You're a Writer When...

Last night I felt completely overwhelmed with all of these health issues. I went home, ate supper, and decided to work out on my treadmill. Well, the treadmill wasn't working right. In disgust, I went upstairs, flopped down on my bed, and cried.

A few minutes later, however, I got up, went and booted up my laptop, and started writing. Sure, it was only for ten minutes or so, but in those ten minutes, I completely forgot about my health and dived into my characters' world. It was amazing.

I wanted to work on it longer, but I only had so much energy last night. Medical issues sort of suck the energy out of you.

I took my glucose tolerance test this morning and thankfully, my mom came with me to keep me company. The whole thing took two hours since they had to check my blood every 30 minutes. But that's just one test out of the way, and hopefully, it will be the test that will help give them a diagnosis.

I really just wanted to go home and sleep after that, but alas, duty calls. The day job and all that. *grin*

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Kingdom for my Health!

I moan and groan about my headaches and various other ailments, but things took a decided turn for the not-so-good this morning.

I'd gone to get some lab work done a few weeks ago and hadn't yet heard the results. So when I called and talked to the nurse, she promised to get back to me. This morning I heard what I really didn't want to hear.

Very high triglycerides, high cholesterol, elevated liver functions, and...a glucose tolerance test.

Y'know, I was in relatively good health until July of 2000. That was when I took Depo Provera, the birth control shot "that you only have to think about four times a year." Yeah right. I finally had to get over being angry at myself for taking that shot simply because I have never been the same since. I won't bore you with the details, but gaining 50 pounds in a year should tell you something. :-)

Now I'm looking at a possible diagnosis of diabetes. To tell you the truth, this doesn't surprise me. In fact, if that's what it is, then at least I know what to target, y'know? I can fight it. I have a history of diabetes in my family so at least I'll have a good support system. :-)

Anyway, the whole point of this post is this: I want to be healthy so I can be there for my daughter, for my family, and for my writing. I have all these goals and dreams and desires, but I can't accomplish any of them unless I'm healthy.

So let the tests begin. Let them poke and prod and do what they will to figure out just what it is that is keeping me from accomplishing my goals. I'm ready!

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Tag of Four

Just got back from the dentist. He worked on 4 teeth and one was really stubborn, so I ended up laying there a lot longer than I thought I would. I'm exhausted. Thus, I can't think of a good blog topic so I'm doubly glad that Rene tagged me.

Four jobs I’ve had
Library assistant
Pizza chef
Legal secretary
Bookstore clerk (3 different bookstores!)

Four Places I've Lived
Bridgeport, Nebraska
Scottsbluff, Nebraska
Chadron, Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska (yup, I need to move out of state!)

Four movies I watch over and over
Laura (old 1940's movie)
Under the Tuscan Sun
National Treasure
Frenchman's Creek (another old 1940's movie)

Four places I’ve vacationed
New Orleans

Four favorite dishes
Turkey and stuffing!
My husband's enchiladas
House lo mein from the neighborhood Chinese resteraunt

Four Sites I visit daily
My bank's website
Um...the rest are blogs

Four places I’d rather be right now
Virginia, specifically Colonial Williamsburg

Four t.v. shows I love
As Time Goes By (BBC comedy)
One Foot in the Grave (another BBC Comedy)
Friends (yeah, not terribly original)
History's Mysteries on the History Channel, which I desperately miss

Four bloggers I’m tagging
Um....anyone that wants to do this is welcome! I'm too tired to think of anyone...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Plot Problems Resolved!

I figured out my plotting problem and I've been working ever since! Unfortunately, the weekend never lasts as long as I want it to and it's back to work tomorrow. To add insult to injury, I also have another dentist appointment tomorrow to start getting some of these teeth fixed. *groan* I am REALLY not looking forward to that. Yeah, yeah, it will be completely numb, but I still have shivers over that whole numbing process. It's a needle and that's enough to make me skip the entire thing!

Didn't do much this weekend, though. Had a very relaxing Saturday night. Hubby made his famous chicken noodle and butterball soup and we sat around and watched movies. I went to church this morning, did the tax return this afternoon (another *groan*), and have been working on my novel ever since.

Yes, I am actually missing the Superbowl right now in favor of writing!

It's just the cat and I in the house. Classical music playing in the background, and no t.v. The cat and I are becoming better acquainted. Fortunately, I'm not as allergic to her as I thought I would be and she's now taken up permanent residence in the house. I'm still not a cat person - I love how my dog will come to me when I want him to - the cat could care less if I'm alive - but we're getting along now. She'll even come and lay on my chests sometimes. It's the whole claw thing that gets to me - and when she unsheaths those things, I want to bolt out the door.

It's days like this, when I'm totally immersed in my writing, that I really groan over the whole day job thing. But that's why I'm really hitting the writing hard tonight - I want to someday not be indebted to that whole day job thing. Of course, I realize that hubby will still have to keep his job- and it better be a darn good one- to allow me to stay home part of the time and write. But that's the goal.

Hope you all have a wonderful week!

Friday, February 03, 2006

My Love Affair With Fridays

Oh, how I love Fridays. There is just a certain feeling in the air, one of sweet anticipation and relief that the work week is nearly through and two whole days of vacation are nearly here. The atmosphere at work is nearly the same. Everyone has a bit of "It's Friday, I'll deal with it Monday" attitude. I love it.

I think we all need this sort of anticipation in our lives, otherwise the daily grind becomes too much of a grind. The light-heartedness that accompanies a Friday gives me the motivation to keep going through my work week. It's a little thing, yes, but it's the little things that count.

RWA Conference!!!

I am determined to go to RWA's national conference this year in Atlanta. I love the South anyway, and maybe I'll get a chance to sneak away and visit a few plantation homes. But if not, that's okay. I'll be around a ton of other like-minded individuals and that is going to be AWESOME.

I told hubby that I am going this year. I've wanted to for five years now, but never had the money to do it. This year, it's going to happen. I've already got two others gals in my group who are going to room with me and when the next payday rolls around, I'm going to register. Airfare isn't too horribly expensive, but I want to get my ticket before they go up, as I'm sure they will since it will be the summer touristy season.

The only problem I foresee is that my husband's job status might be a little shaky. I think he will probably have a new job by then and heck, maybe we'll even have a new house. But I figure if I invest now, I will work it out so that I can go, no matter our job situation, etc. I don't have plans to look for another job and I know I'll have more than a week's vacation built up by that time.

Since I'm also the president of my chapter, I'll get a bit of money thrown my way for attending the president's retreat. That will definitely help.

Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Happy Birthday, Hubby!


It's my husband's birthday! He's 34 today. And he doesn't want a cake or any sort of party. :-( To him, it's just another day. But I'm going to make it special for him anyway! Love you, honey!

In Writing News...

Wow! Had a BIG brainstorm last night! I came up with an awesome idea! BUT...if I decide to go with this idea, it will be a lot of work to work it into the manuscript. However, I have a feeling the book will be SO MUCH BETTER if I do this. Really, there's not much of a decision to be made, is there? I must do this! I just need to flesh out the idea a little more and I think I'm good to go!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Inching Forward

The meeting went well last night. We talked a lot about writing (which is what you're supposed to do!) instead of getting bogged down in business stuff. That made me feel good about the direction we're headed for 2006.

I did get a few ideas last night for my plot problem, but it's not "there" yet. I'm inching forward on finding the solution, but the lightning bolt of "yes, THIS is the one!!!" hasn't hit me.

I think I'll put my mind on it tonight while I'm exercising. Makes the time go by quicker.

I'm itching to get back to the keyboard. I haven't written anything new since last week.

New Digs

I've got a new home on the web - stop by if you get a chance! www.melissamarsh.net